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The top 10 UFA Signings in Dolphins History

Tackle Terron Armstead among the top pick-ups after his two Pro Bowl seasons in Miami

Before the free agency frenzy of 2024 begins, and before we break down the top available UFAs on the market this year, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at the top Miami Dolphins signings of years past.

Note that this list includes only unrestricted free agents, players whose contract with their previous team had expired, and not free agents who simply had been released and could sign with any other team.

The list also doesn't include somebody like Cameron Wake, who came from the CFL in 2009 as a "street free agent."

Also note that the countdown is based on a combination of contribution versus contract.

Let the debate begin:

T-10. QB Matt Moore, 2011

Moore was a very good backup QB for the Dolphins for seven years after first signing a two-year contract and then being re-signed. He was 6-3 down the stretch in his first year in Miami after replacing Chad Henne during Tony Sparano's last season as head coach and he won two games late in the 2016 seasom, after Ryan Tannehill was injured, to help clinch a playoff spot.

T-10. CB Andre' Goodman, 2006

The Dolphins signed both Goodman and Will Allen at cornerback during the 2006 offseason, but Goodman provided much better value on his three-year deal worth $4.9 million (compared to four years, $12 million for Allen). Goodman was a full-time starter for two of his three years in Miami and his five interceptions in 2008 helped the Dolphins win the AFC East title.

9. T Branden Albert, 2014

The Dolphins paid big money (more than $9 million a year) to sign Albert to a five-year contract, but he helped solidify the offensive line right away, made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and was part in 2016 of the team's best offensive line this millennium (along with Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, Jermon Bushrod and Ja'Wuan James).

8. DE Emmanuel Ogbah, 2020

Ogbah had shown pass-rushing flashes with the Browns and Chiefs before the Dolphins signed him to a two-year deal worth $15 million, but he took his game to a whole new level in Miami with nine sacks in both 2020 and 2021. After the Dolphins re-signed him to a second contract, Ogbah's contributions took a dip before he was released this offseason.

7. DT Larry Chester, 2002

Chester wasn't exactly a household name when he joined the Dolphins on a five-year contract, but he lived up to his reputation as a big-time run defender very quickly. The Dolphins were 17th in the NFL in run defense in 2001 before Chester arrived, then were fifth and tied for fifth in his two full seasons. Chester was injured in the second game of 2004 and never played again. The Dolphins ended up 31st in the NFL in run defense that year during the disastrous 4-12 season and maybe it wasn't a coincidence.

6. T Terron Armstead, 2022

Like Albert, the Dolphins paid good money to sign Armstead, even though he never played a full season during his time with the New Orleans Saints, Armstead again dealt with injuries in his first two seasons in Miami, but the difference he made when he was in the lineup was pretty obvious. The durability questions remain two years after the signing, topped now by questions about how long he'll keep playing.

5. FB Keith Byars, 1993

Signed to a two-year deal in the first spring of full free agency in the NFL, Byars ended up playing three-plus seasons in Miami before being released and landing in New England. Byars made the Pro Bowl in 1993, averaged 54 receptions in his three full seasons with Miami and, of course, had that memorable 77-yard touchdown run on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas in 1993.

4. TE Keith Jackson, 1992

Jackson always will be an interesting free agent because of his part in a lawsuit that challenged the NFL's previous Plan B free agency and because of his status as one of the first true unrestricted free agents. Once the ruling was handed out in favor of the four players suing the NFL, they became free to negotiate with any team and the Dolphins landed the much-coveted Jackson with a four-year, $6 million deal. Jackson went on to average 49 catches and six touchdowns in his three seasons in Miami and made the Pro Bowl in 1992.

3. S Brock Marion, 1998

Jimmy Johnson built a tremendous defense during his time as Dolphins head coach and did so mostly through the draft. Marion was an exception, as he rejoined his former Dallas head coach via free agency on a three-year deal. Marion ended up playing seven seasons for the Dolphins and made the Pro Bowl three times.

2. DT Randy Starks, 2008

The versatile defensive lineman was seen as a rising star when the Dolphins signed him away from Tennessee with a five-year, $20 million contract in 2008 and he ended up playing several different roles in both 4-3 and 3-4 alignments during his seven season in Miami, two of which ended with him being selected to the Pro Bowl.

1. CB Brent Grimes, 2013

Grimes was a one-time Pro Bowl selection with the Atlanta Falcons, but he was coming off a torn Achilles tendon sustained in the 2012 opener when the Dolphins took a shot and signed him to a one-year, $5 million prove-it contract. Oh, he proved it all right. Grimes had four picks and made the Pro Bowl in 2013, got a new contract and repeated as a Pro Bowl selection in 2014 and 2015. Who knows how long he would have played in Miami if not for owner Stephen Ross growing tired of issues with Grimes' wife, Miko. But while he played only three seasons in Miami, it's difficult to think of a better UFA signing for the Dolphins.